I can’t quite believe I’ve been here nearly two months – quite unplanned too. This evening I leave Bangalore (all going to plan, something I never quite count on in India) for Trivandrum in Kerala, where I plan to stay a month, training in the south Indian martial art of Kalarippayattu and reacquainting myself after too long a gap with the love of my life: the ocean.
Last Sunday’s performance at the Alliance Française really went very well. I’ve decided against posting a load of process materials here as I’d said I would, partly because it’s a bit of a minority interest, and partly because this last week in Bangalore has felt very busy, though I’m not entirely sure why.
The film project got postponed to after my departure and so I’m no longer doing that. I’m vaguely disappointed as I had found the whole thing very amusing, but I’m not surprised at all, the film industry here having the reputation it does. It feels like the important thing was to make and present my two choreographies and that was done, and done quite happily.
I don’t think I’d quite anticipated how much I’d have to split myself: on the one hand, solo improviser and all the terror that entailed, on the other hand, director/choreographer for a group who had had little time for the work in progress. It was definitely a challenge and I don’t understand how l looked so calm just before I went on for the solo, as I was feeling quite sick. I think my warm-up (a good, strengthening, calming yoga one) must have been pretty effective as here I am backstage, a couple of minutes before going on, looking what someone called “serene”, though not sure I was feeling it.
Thanks to Samuel Lawrence Raj for all photos but the last one in this entry.
And here’s a rather more active moment later in La Blanche:
I was reasonably happy with it as a first showing. Feedback I received was that the interplay of media worked well: speech, soundscape, dance, music. The soundscape consisted of sounds of the sea, a story I’d recorded and jigged around a bit of a day at the beach and some dead sting rays, and some Gabonese tribal songs. There were short bits of narrative text spoken live and a bilingual poem (hence garnering me the French reference). I’d like to refine some of the movement tasks a bit further, I think, and work with a visual designer and costume designer and possibly with textures (sand, water) if I carry this solo on, which I have a feeling I might at some point.
I enjoyed the group piece, The Spaces Between. I enjoyed the group of dancers and the journey we made together in our three weeks. I say three weeks, but week one was all workshops and I only had all the dancers who were actually in the final showing for the last week. So very chaotic and Indian, but in true Indian fashion, it somehow worked in the end. It was very much a work-in-progress but at a point I felt it was worth showing. From the feedback we received, many people in the audience agreed.
Here’s a moment from it:
I read with great amusement last night our review in Metrolife of the Deccan Herald. The two pictures they published were very nice but the poor reviewer was clearly completely bemused (contemporary dance is very much a minority activity in India). We were called “spectacular”, “thought-provoking” and “beautiful” but the reviewer (no name, only initials: DHNS) seemed most struck by my left hand being hurt “very badly” in one of the stories of my solo (this was a rather minor point, actually) and the fact the dancers wore no jewellery (which points to a reviewer with a classical Indian dance bent). Come to think of it, there’s lots there that could be taken out of context to put on future flyers the way posters for plays display snippets of reviews in London that make them sound much more grand than they actually are.
Here are the dancers in a more informal moment on the day we were attempting to work out possible costumes:
So having mastered the rickshaws of Bangalore and finally got a vague sense of its geography, I am off again tonight. Eighteen hours on a train feels very modest after my previous thirty-four hour journeys. I am travelling a class down this time, sleeper instead of third A/C, so we shall see whether enough of my bunk is empty for me actually to get any sleep.
There’s a tug in my heart at saying goodbye to friends here, not knowing when or whether I shall see them again. But it feels time to move on. The busy-ness that was my life in Bangalore has dissolved and this is not a place for me to be with nothing to do. I came to India hoping for calm and space, inner and outer, and in Bangalore I have been overwhelmed by externals and motion. I’m looking forward to things being simpler in Trivandrum: training in the early mornings, getting the bus to the beach in the day, staying at the Kalari, reading, writing, being, worrying about nothing further than myself. Perhaps this is delusional. We shall see.
It feels important that I shall be near the sea finally. There’s a relief at it calling me – home almost.
Wishing you waves of joy,
From Lucy, with love x